The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) sent a letter to Dr. Agnes Kalibata, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) this week, outlining six conditions required for AFSA’s 36 members to participate.
AFSA hopes to center agroecology in any recommendations that come out of the UNFSS. Other conditions that must be met include benchmarks like incorporating traditional knowledge and practices of Indigenous peoples in processes and establishing an additional track to focus on the transformation of corporate food systems to food sovereignty.
In addition, AFSA shared their concerns regarding the influence of corporate agricultural interests at the summit, the space to advance the voices of smallholder African farmers, and the extent to which agroecological approaches will be considered in solutions.
Dr. Chris Macoloo, AFSA’s Chair, says “A food systems summit that is not driven by food producers but instead heavily influenced by agribusiness will not put corporate interests aside and embrace rethinking and revisioning a better and vibrant food system. To address the climate crisis, feed the hungry, address structural inequality, and rejuvenate biodiversity, a fundamental transformation of our food systems is required. We cannot participate in the process that bestows legitimacy on the agribusiness conglomerates”
The letter states, “Solutions will only work for Africa if they work for millions of farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolks, indigenous communities, custodians of nature, and women and youth in the food system.”
AFSA stresses that agroecology is the only way to fight the nexus of environmental, economic, cultural and social regeneration in agriculture and overall food systems.
Dr. Million Belay, AFSA’s General Coordinator, says, “African food producers have generations of knowledge to share on growing nutritious and diverse food in a way that promotes social and climate justice. By centering agroecology at the UNFSS we can support farmers around the globe in being sustainable stewards for their land, producing nourishing food that celebrates cultural heritage, and strengthening local markets and economies. A Summit that does not recognize Indigenous and local African knowledge and demands is an affront to millions of Africans.”